SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has welcomed the passing of a bill to protect people from stalking.
MLAs backed the bill in the Assembly on Tuesday.
Foyle MLA Ms McLaughlin said:
“This is an extremely important piece of legislation and I was heartened to see it receive the backing of MLAs in the Assembly today. Being stalked can destroy someone’s life, it can make every day a misery, force someone to be constantly on edge and have a significant impact on their physical and mental health. It’s long past time we had dedicated legislation to combat it in the North.
“Throughout this bill’s passage we heard numerous heartbreaking stories from people who had experienced stalking first-hand. We also heard support groups outline how ex-partners and even paramilitaries used stalking as a way of exerting control over people. There is significant evidence of a link between stalking and people killed through domestic violence and this bill will allow for police intervention before harmful behaviour escalates in future.
“Following on from the coercive control legislation coming into effect this week this legislation should help protect people, and particularly women, from abuse. We saw domestic abuse incidents reach an all-time high in the North during the pandemic and this requires an Executive-wide response. Our society still has a long way to go to properly tackle this problem and we must continue to do everything we can to combat it.
"In the absence of a budget following the DUP's decision to collapse the Executive, we must ensure adequate resources are available so that this bill can make the difference that's sorely needed.”